After a three-year gap between proper albums (thought three singles collections were released during the interregnum), The Mountain Goats returned in classic form with The Coroner's Gambit. It's all here for both the devoted disciple and the new convert: low-fi production and highly literate lyrics, songs performed with simultaneous intensity and subtlety. Populating the album with images of cooking, gardening, relationships, and death (four common motifs in the Mountain Goats' body of work), and name dropping the likes of Tolstoy and LeAnn Rimes along the way, songwriter and principle Mountain Goat John Darnielle's lyrics are as deceptively simple and idiosyncratic as ever. Much like D.C. Berman of the Silver Jews, Darnielle's lyrics could easily stand alone without musical accompaniment, which maybe explains why he's usually satisfied recording on a boom box: slick production would just be distracting. And while much of the material on The Coroner's Gambit is captured in this modest way, five songs were recorded with Simon Joyner and members of Lullaby for the Working Class and Bright Eyes. But the resulting songs -- though symphonic compared to most of the output of the Mountain Goats, adding additional guitar and minimal string accompaniment -- are still well within the friendly confines of lo-fi.
AllMusic Review by Jason Nickey